Genre: Fantasy, PNR, YA
Rating: 4 STARS
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.
Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
“The night Kate Harker decided to burn down the school chapel, she wasn’t angry or drunk.”
“Mikaela, how dare you call yourself a V.E. Scwab fan when you haven’t read This Savage Song yet?” I know, I know, it’s a shame! I read the first two books in the Shades of Magic trilogy, fell in love with Vicious, even pre-ordered This Savage Song about a month before it was released…and then promptly downloaded it on the Kindle app, and never read it. And then went to meet her, bought a physical copy, and left it sitting on my bookshelf, collecting dust. So when I finally forced myself to read it, of course, I was like, “WHERE WAS THIS BOOK ALL MY LIFE???”
First off, the world-building in this book was A++. I loved seeing this sort of dystopian/PNR novel in which humans and monsters co-exist. I thought the entire conflict between the two families definitely reminded me of Romeo and Juliet, except there was no romance (THANK JESUS HALLELUJAH). The entire conflict between monsters and humans sort of reminded me of how people can easily stereotype those we don’t know based off of what we’re told and our personal bias, which goes for everybody on any sort of side. I love how the details about this world were sprinkled in and not forced onto us via info-dump. Where does V.E. Schwab come up with these wonderful ideas and worlds?
The characters were fantastic, and probably what made me really fall in love with this book. We have Kate Harker, a human who has total daddy issues and strives as hard as she can to be this “toughie” who has no feelings (which we all know for sure is completely untrue) and August Flynn, my sweet baby monster, who only wants to be a human being and doesn’t want to hurt a soul (which is quite unfortunate because he has to to, you know, live). I think one of my favorite things about this besides the fact that the two of them didn’t have these cheesy romantic moments (PRAISE GOD), was the fact that their typical gender roles were reversed, in a way? Usually, we have the guys being these broody bad boys with a rough past and family issues, and the girl is innocent and wants to stay out of the special powers she’s forced into, so I thought it was an awesome change of pace to see it be turned upside down a little bit.
I also really loved seeing Kate’s anxiety. It’s not talked about that much in the book, but I love how it was shown, especially since she struggled with so many problems concerning her past that she just keeps bottled up inside. I don’t have the same anxiety that Kate herself has (I’m pretty sure she has a more general anxiety while mine is a more mild form of social anxiety), but I thought it was a really nice touch to the story. And can we please talk about August’s character development? It was absolutely brilliant to see him go from this shy monster who didn’t want to hurt anybody to someone who could finally take control of his own ability and accepted himself as who he really was. I think it’s a nice change of heart to see someone accept themselves as who they are, even though they feel as if they’re “bad,” especially since we read so many stories in which characters feel as if they have to entirely denounce who they are to be considered a “good guy.” August is just as morally gray and complex as a human being would be.
The pacing of this novel was totally on point. There’s just something completely magical about Schwab’s writing that always manages to draw me in and keep me turning the pages. How could I ever say no to another chapter when the previous one ended on an amazing cliffhanger? HOW? I think one of the best things about this book is that you can easily go into it completely blind (which is obviously always the best way to go into a book) since the summary is so vague and doesn’t give away too much of the story, so we get taken on this incredible journey full of twists and turns.
All in all, another V.E. Schwab novel that I completely and totally fell in love with. Can this woman do no wrong? I definitely think so.
Have you read this book already (you probably have)? What are your feelings on it? What’s your favorite book of Schwab’s?